The Joy Is In The Journey

January17/ 2000

…. Carolina’s “special season” is over.  Marginal expectations in November evolved into “we might do IT again” hopes in early March but ended in an agonizing 2nd half in Dayton.  “Dayton” – Did the ghost of Don May waylay yet another Tar Heel march to a net-cutting?  Now Heel faithful get all gooey and sticky imagining “next year”.  BobLee will not fall prey to such focus but will follow “The VineSwamp Theory” … in Sports, the joy lies in the Journey not the Destination. … .

    My “Down East” buddy VineSwamp is THE Best Darn Carolina sports fan I know.  Despite living 115 miles from The Old Well “Swampy” has a Kenan and Dean Dome attendance record that Cal Ripken would say “no way”.  Yes Cal, way.

    Swampy has seen, in-person, 378 UNC Home BB games since 1974 including the last 307 in a row, and EVERY home game in the history of the Dean Dome.  He has attended 205 consecutive home FB games in Kenan and 130 consecutive Tar Heel FB games home and away.  That’s a heck of a lot of joyful journeys up and down Highway 70. 

    He also has a 3/4 scale replica of The Old Well in his backyard and “a Blue Room” with a 4’x 6’ framed rendering of Beautiful Kenan Stadium above the sofa..

    All those games include a high % of W in BB and not such a high % of Ws in FB.  But a 100% enjoyment in following UNC sports.  And it must be noted that Swampy does it all without fortifying himself w/ fermented spirits.  In all those years he has “only” seen three National Championships in BB.  “Three” is actually quite a lot but there have been 25+ seasons that ended short of the ultimate prize in various fashions … 1984 being prehaps the cruelest.  

    Fate has introduced Swampy to such dagger-weilding heartbreakers as Dan Dakich, Butch Lee, Harold Arcineaux, Miles Simon, Otto Petty, Pervis Ellison, and the afore-mentioned Don May.  May, in 1967, was slightly before Swampy got geared up w/ his streak but must be included on any Tar Heel Heartbreaker List for sure.

    If Swampy limited his “enjoyment” to “net-cuttings” he would have gone quite mad decades ago and would now be living under the Falling Creek bridge and subsisting on bellybutton lint and toe jam.  He is SwaggerSays’ Most Favorite Fan because he enjoys each game experience for simply what it is … a few hours of exciting sports competition.  Does he “care” who wins?  Ask anyone who sits within 20’ of him at either Kenan or Dean Dome … indeed “Swampy cares” in a highly vocal fashion.  I’ve seen this for a fact on numerous occasions … by the time Swampy is back to his car post-game he is composed and refocused enough to thread a needle in a hurricane … whether the nail-biting buzzer-beater went his Heels way or not. 

NOTE:  Swampy is our #1 Individual Fan … 

the Clubhousers from HokieLand are our #1 BunchaFans.

    Between those countless hours of on-site Tar Heel fandom, Swampy is “Banker of choice” for a whole bunch of Wuffies, Dookies, PiRates, and assorted other misdirected allegiances.  Despite a local reputation as “this really nutty Carolina fan I know” he is also known as a dedicated churchman, a good neighbor, a solid citizen, his mother’s son, and as overall as popular a fellow as Lenoir County has ever produced.  Have lunch w/ him in a local restaurant and count the waves, smiles, and howdy-doos in a 45-minute period.  You’ll be in double figures before you’re halfway thru the first basket of hushpuppies.

Swampy’s credentials as “a true (real) fan” ….. Rain, shine, sleet, snow, 8-20, back to back 1-10s … Swampy is there.  Crum, Brown, YOL, PTL, NASCarl, Cobey, Little Johnny, Meezie, Hooker, Burly John, Mad Matt, you name’em and Swampy steadfastly antes up and shows up. Going on 30 years, he’s written his annual check to Big Ernie, Moyer and now Monty.  Swampy doesn’t waste his energies hating folks … be they UNC admins or coaches … OK, he can get a bit torqued towards a certain State FB coach and “you know who” in West Derm but he recognizes they’re all God’s children … OK, except “you know who” in West Derm. 

The most upset I’ve seen Swampy was at a FB tailgate two years ago.  BLS was honored to be a guest at his pre-game fete in the Bell Tower Lot when suddenly Swampy goes ballistic, by VineSwamp standards.  He noticed that the North Carolina state flag flying atop the Kenan FB Center (aka The House That Mack & Little Johnny Built) was UPSIDE DOWN!!!!!!  Surely Fate had yours truly on the scene … coincidence, I think NOT!

I immediately set down my big ol’ slice of lemon meringue pie and got on the cell phone to my deep inside sources with “Team Dickie”.

“Phineus, this is Swagger.  We got us a for real “situation”.”

    “This better be good, BL.  Fuchs and Willie are feudin’. I got a dance team hottie with a cramp in her shapely calf. And a cheerleader with a broken fingernail. What’s up?”  

    “The NC state flag is flying upside down atop The Kenan Center.”

    “Holy Choo Choo … please don’t tell me that either Vineswamp or General Bill have noticed it.”

    “Too late PT … Swampy’s chewing nails and spitting out tacks.  I think we’re safe with the Old Jet Jockey though … but it’s only a matter of time.”

“That’s a 10-4 Swagger.  I’ll get Michael to massage the hottie’s calf and I’ll shinny up the flagpole m’self.”

… There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes that regular folks never know about … back to my point about “the joy being in the journey”.

  PLEASE don’t be the sort of fan that HAS to have a National Championship in Basketball or a BCS Bowl in Football to find joy in following your team.  Assuming that “next year” Roy will DEFINITELY have “us” back in The Final Four is a deadly assumption.  “1984” can happen any time despite a busload of McDonald’s AAs everyone of whom is an Eagle Scout and Honor Student.

   As for “recruiting” … Swampy has noticed in over 30 years as a pretty darn loyal Tar Heel fan that every year we seem to have some new players.  Some become household names with their jersies in the rafters or honored in Kenan … some don’t.  He’s seen All Americans go on to pro glory and he’s seen kids leave the programs for assorted reasons … but somehow, before every game, a bunch of kids wearing Carolina Blue run out of the tunnel and he enjoys watching them compete.  Works for Swampy … works for BobLee. 

Ask Swampy for his memories of The Special Season W/ The Golden Children and I betcha he won’t even mention George Whatshisname.  He’ll recall Noel’s buzzerbeater vs Gardner-Webb … the big upset W @ Rupp … realizing that little Wes Miller kid CAN SHOOT … when we knew “the kid from Poplar Bluff” was SPECIAL … when Noel became the next George Lynch … Tyler’s Monster Game vs FSU … any of a dozen “WOW” dunks by Noel … Rayshawn’s “Michael move” vs BC in the ACC Tourney loss … the blow-out in the RBC … and, of course, “ruining Senior Night in Cameron” and Bobby’s grin when we all knew “we had it”.

  Me and Swampy just had a heckuva joyful journey following Ol’ Roy and The Boys … and we’ll have one next year, and the next too regardless of when and where it ends.  Most SSays readers understand because we are honored to have a very high calibre of adult reader/fans here.  

  Enjoy a spectator sports event for its color and pagentry … enjoy each incredible athletic move by these gifted young people … enjoy the strategy mind games between the coaches … the rim-rattling dunks … the 3s from “downtown” … the clutch free throws in the waning seconds … a Connor Barth game-winner v Miami or David Orner’s v Duke … a heroic goal line stand … even the agony of an unbelievable Deacon 2nd half comeback in Kenan …  

  If you’re following your team hoping “they don’t let you down” … you are a pathetic human being for whom snatches of joy and happiness in life will be sporadic and short-lived.  If you are dependent upon the success of others to provide you a vicarious sense of “accomplishment” in your life, you are destined to a life of woe and worry … and well deserving of such a forlorn fate.

   As for me and Swampy … we’ll enjoy another coupla spoonfulls of that casserole, one more slice of pie, and, maybe, a brownie to go … and be back next game, to enjoy doing it again.  


Swagger’s Stumper

Another “Link” Question:  

Die Hard 2 … NYPD Blue

(Little Ricky, The Chapmans, and Big Bobby will all get this one)


   Elliott Gould was Trapper John in MASH The Movie … Monica and Ross’ Dad in Friends … and Babs’ first Boy Toy.

   Today (Wed) we’re doing the 3-peat for Wilson Kiwanis.  Yep, three years in a row confusing the best and the brightest of Wilson County.  We’ll be talking some Herb and even some “Jaime Pressley” … WOO HOO!

    Japan reigns as World Baseball Champions … AND has the Competitive Eating Champion TOO. Damn that Marshall Plan, we shoulda salted their fields like Rome did to Carthage.  At least the Godless Caribbean commies didn’t win.

    Rick “He Yelled At Dean” Barnes has officially abdicated his title as “The Lupine Spurrier”.  The next “Chosen One” Nominating Committee will meet in the backroom of Amedeo’s Thursday night at 7:45.  Reservations and shoes suggested but neither are required.  

        T.O. will “do it again” within the next 15 months. … but it will be to Jerry Jones so who cares?

    TAKE IT TO THE BANK:  Neither Condileeza Rice nor Angelina Jolie nor Brady Quinn’s sister will be the next NFL Commish.  The five short-list candidates will be.

  •  George Mason 
  •  Steve Spurrier 
  •  Some stern-faced New York lawyer over 50 w/ an Ivy League law degree and a closet full of dark suits 
  •  Ted Ferguson 
  •  Marvin Sanders (but Marv will withdraw his name when Dickie gives him a $2.5 million raise and “a 52” plasma” for his new office overlooking Cobb Beach.)

Want to e-mail BobLee?

[email protected]

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